Final Fantasy X: Monster Arena

By Shamus Posted Tuesday May 9, 2006

Filed under: Game Reviews 46 comments

One of the sidequests in Final Fantasy X is the Monster Arena. About two-thirds of the way through the game, you get to the arena and the owner offers you a little job: Take special (slightly nerfed) weapons and run around “capturing” the monsters you fight. It works the same as normal combat, except that if you deliver the killing blow with the capture weapon, then the monster becomes part of the Monster Arena menagerie. You can then go back and pay to fight that monster anytime you like, as often as you like.

The immediate advantage of doing this that you can’t get a game over from fighting in the arena. Even if all of your characters are KO’ed, you just end up back at the entrance instead of the “Load Game” screen. The other advantages become more apparent later.

As you collect more of the later monsters in the game (and once you backtrack earlier parts of the game and collect those monsters) you will unlock certain special monsters. These are all unique boss fights, and there are dozens of them. If you’re like me and you enjoy challenging boss fights yet hate the defeat of game over then this is gaming goodness as its best.

Some of these boss monsters are prepoerously tough. Some require you to level up to maximum strength. Some are almost puzzles. Some just take a while to wear down. Some require certain special abilities or immunities to defeat. Some are just humorous. For the clever players, a few monsters offer some nice tricks / exploits that you can use to your advanatge.

Want to level up your hapless hero? First… get you one of these:

Final Fantasy X
Not available in stores. Offer only valid while supplies last. Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.

The Triple AP is hard to come by, but at this point you don’t need it. Just get any weapon and put Overdrive->AP on it. This means that your overdrive guage won’t charge, but instead those points will go into your AP (for you D&D players – AP is the Final Fantasy version of XP) and level you up. The trick now is to engage in behavior that would quickly or instantly charge up the ‘ol overdrive guage.

Set your overdrive mode to “comrade”. This means that when either of the other two characters in the fight take damage, your OD guage will charge. However, because you have Overdrive->AP, you’ll get AP when terrible things happen to your friends. Now your goal is to get into a battle and arrange for those awful things to happen. The best way way to accomplish this is to fight this guy:

Final Fantasy X

Don Tonberry.

He may be adorable, but he’s nasty. Whenever you do anything in battle: attack, cast spells, steal, cough in his direction, look at him cross-eyed, anything, then he auto-counters with “Karma”. Karma deals damage to the target according to how many monsters they’ve killed. I’m guessing, but I think it’s just the kill count x 100. This means Yuna has nothing to fear, but Auron, Wakka, and Tidus are going to experience some severe retribution.

Final Fantasy X
I hope you’ve been a good boy…

You can probably see where this is going. Have the character with Overdrive->AP stand still (don’t attack!) and revive the other two guys whenever they get KO’ed. (Which should be every stinking round, unless you’re some sort of pacifist.)

Final Fantasy X
You know the old saying, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you”? This time it’s really true.

These guys should be taking many times their max health in damage, which is key. (Note that if they have armor with HP bonuses on it, you’ll want to take it off. The bigger the gap between their MAX HP and the Karma damage they take, the more AP you’ll get. It should be, at minimum, three or four times their MAX HP.

Final Fantasy X
This really hurts, ya?

So how well does it work? Take a look:

Final Fantasy X
That… is a lot of AP.

That’s seven hundred thousand AP, or about 100 times what a normal battle would be worth. Note that if you don’t have Triple AP, you’d still get a respectable quarter million. This one battle earned me about fifty sphere levels, which would have taken ages doing things the normal way.


From The Archives:

46 thoughts on “Final Fantasy X: Monster Arena

  1. Do you think this is something the game designers made possible deliberately? Or have you found an easy back door to winning the game?

  2. Eric says:

    I’ve got only one thing to say:”GOTTA CATCH’EM ALL, POKEMON!!”

  3. HC says:

    Deliberately. A significant portion of the fanbase just salivates at the thought of constructing a PARTY OF ULTIMATE DOOOOM! Another portion just wants to get through the story.

    This means that hidden side-quest bosses are inevitabably powerful enough to annihilate all life everywhere, but instead of trying to do that (like the storyline boss does) they just hide away and contemplate their navels. That way, people who don’t exploit every trick in the rulebook and farm experience with tractors can finish the storyline.

    Which reminds me, if you ever get around to X-2 there’s a trick you can use…

  4. Shamus says:

    I don’t know if the designers did it on purpose, but I do know they must have been okay with it. They made several changes from the original Japanese release to the American release, and they didn’t do anything about this. I find it hard to believe that this wasn’t a widely used trick in Japan long before the game got here.

    Once you get far enough in monster arena, the game seems to be willing to give you all sorts of crazy prizes and rewards. I should note that these special boss battles are actually quite a bit harder than the world-threatening monster that you must fight at the end of the game. Once you can beat these things, the final battle with Sin is a joke.

    So to a certain extent, Monster Arena allows you to level out of control if you want. You can accumulate massive power and incredible weapons, as long as you’re willing to invest the time to unlock and defeat all of these crazy bosses.

    1. esoterikos says:

      I did things backwards, I played the end of the game before I even found the Omega Ruins. Then I went back to a previous save and continued to power up for the monster arena. Since it’s kind of like a boss-battle tournament, it has become my goal in life. Also, if you run Yuna through Auron’s section of the grid, she & the aeons become mondo-death in a skirt.. Run Auron through Rikku’s grid section and he becomes able to hit fiends that move. Even flying beasties.

  5. Shamus says:

    A significant portion of the fanbase just salivates at the thought of constructing a PARTY OF ULTIMATE DOOOOM! Another portion just wants to get through the story.

    This is indeed what I love about these games. The first time through the game, I want to see the end. The next time, I want to do all the minigames and sidequests and secret locations.

    It’s a rare game that has the wit to allow for both.

  6. Pixy Misa says:

    And they introduced new, even more absurdly powerful monsters (the Dark Aeons) in the International release. Bastardy things. I had no trouble at all taking out Yunalesca, Seymor and Sin, but the Dark Aeons are tough.

  7. Joel says:

    Last time I played through this game, I used the trick you described in this post to get all of my characters every skill in the game. Actually, the hardest part is coming up with enough spheres to plug into the grid. If you do this long enough, you definitely end up with a party that just can’t be stopped by any ordinary foe. Between uber-damage and quick hit, the storyline bosses usually don’t even get a chance to hit you back before they die. That being said, some of the higher level arena bosses are still awfully difficult to beat, even with all your characters min/maxed.

  8. Shamus says:

    Pixy: When did the Dark Aeons appear? Were they on the way to Zanarkand, or did you encounter them sometime later? Were they part of the main quest?

  9. . says:

    The Dark Aeons appear after you complete certain sections of the game, to my knowledge. I think Dark Valefor appears in the temple you get Valefor in, which supposedly makes it a pain if you miss anything on your first run through the game (since you can’t go back until you can beat the Dark Aeons, and they’re all roughly as hard as Nemesis).

    At least in the International version they allow you to have the Ribbon defensive item (protects against all status ailments, although the Dark Aeons have effects that can penetrate even Ribbon). Status effects in FFX were always extraordinarily annoying to me. Encounter a Malboro? Hope you saved your game recently!

  10. Pixy Misa says:

    Yes, they appear after the game is nearly complete. By the time you’re ready to go and wax Sin, all the temples and other spots where you can get aeons have been infested with Dark Aeons. As . says, they’re a real pain if you missed something and need to go back.

    Dark Valefor is the weakest, and even then I got killed two or three times before I managed to take it out. Dark Yojimbo is a real bastard, because he shows up five times before he decides to stay dead. And if you restore the game, the counter gets reset. I never managed to kill him more than twice in a row, as I recall.

  11. Shamus says:

    Thanks for the info. One last question: Is this version with the Dark Aeons in English? Calling a release the “International version” makes it sound like the game is in Esperanto. I mean, if it’s international, then who’s it for?

    Just curious.

  12. Will says:

    Japanese gamers get a bit peeved when extra stuff is added to the foreign releases. Most “international” versions amount to remakes of the North American version re-localized to the Japanese market so nihonjin die-hards can buy and play the game again for one or two extra bosses/dungeons.

  13. Pixy Misa says:

    Well, my copy of the international version is in English. I presume it was translated for other major markets.

    As for who it’s for: For Japanese game companies, there’s Japan, America (including Canada as an afterthought), and Everywhere Else. As a resident of Everywhere Else, I get to wait three to six months and pay 50% extra for new titles.


  14. Beri says:

    I have finished Monster Arena and beat Nemesis couple of timesbut when i go to Besaid to fight the first dark aeon…no lady no nothin’ stops my way… do I get to fight these dark aeons. If you know anything plz let me know…..thenx

  15. Ryan says:

    Hey, I’m having some trouble getting some of the original monsters in the battle arena… can anyone give me some poitners on how to get some of them? Please don’t give me any warning on how “tough” these guys are… my Tidus and Valfor are all maxed out

  16. Ant says:

    Who are you people. I live in England and our FFX is almost impossible to complete, I have all 7 characters maxed out and subsequently all of my aeons are also maxed out. You saying how easy these dark aeons would be….try taking on Dark Magus Sisters with 12 million health and starting with an overdrive gauge full…..also they have full agility and I got my ass kicked first few times…I ended up just using Zanmato. Now nemesis is a joke…Wait until you fight penance…..i would say 100 million times harder than nemesis.

  17. Masanian says:

    Ok, I need some help here. What is everything I need to do to start fighting the Dark Aeons?

  18. Kale says:

    So just to clear things up, the Dark Aeons are only in the International version? I have the US version and I haven’t had the chance to see one of these beautys yet, but I don’t wanna get my hopes up for nothing. Give it to me straight, will I (the owner of a normal US FFX game) ever get to fight these baddys?

  19. Shamus says:

    No. Never. International version only.

  20. Sharef says:

    awesome trick i must say
    even more awesome when each character has 9999 hp and get hit for 99999 dmg
    and double/triple OD thrown in there for good measure
    and yeah, finding enough spheres is a major pain

  21. Vegedus says:

    The Dark Aeons is in, fact, not only in the international version. They’re not in the original Japanese or US version, so guess what continent did get it on the original release? Who almost always gets the games last, but sometimes treats like this? Europe. However, the international version is probably still easier to get, but just wanted you to know you were all wrong (Muhahahah!) when you said it was only the international version.
    I’ve never bothered beating all the aeons, but the Dark Valefor in Besaid sure is a pain. Because of that, I couldn’t get Yuna’s… Ultimate thingie, because I didn’t get that bonus item or whatever in Besaid temple, and you can’t enter for the Dark Valefor. Also, if I remember right, they are not even the strongest bosses in the game either. There’s some… pandemonium or something, which is supposely stronger than everything else.

  22. SiLvErANiMA says:

    You must mean he who responds to Penance (actually, I don’t think he needs to respond to anything, he will just kick your @$$). Unfortunately, I also got the US version, and I’m from “Everywhere else” as well, so tough luck.

    This Penance dude appears after you’ve battled your way through all the dark aeons. A new location appears when you talk to Cid inside the ship. This guy is TOUGH. He’s even tougher than all the WEAPONs in FFVII (well they’re a joke actually).

    You might be curious, how do I know he’s so tough? Check out the videos posted on youtube…just for a quick glimpse.


  23. Vegedus says:

    Penance indeed. See, I even respond to comments in old post. Thanks for the youtube tip, he’s indeed a badass.

  24. gamerz says:

    lookin at this reminds me of how much time i actaully put into this game lol. i have over 200 hours on my game and still never completely costimize my characters. it takes a while but if u wanna hit 99999 on nearly every monster but some of the special guys then ya… fightin at the monster arena is a big plus for that. once u guys start geting clear spheres, str spheres, etc. u’ll be set for the game and invisible to any monster that comes ur way. watch out for the final dude tho… he’s a duzy. very hard to beat even with amazing stats. if u need help with this game i beat it like 10 times… just email me at [email protected]. don’t spam my inbox ether lol. had enough ppl do that for games like soldier front and other crap.

  25. bob says:

    i have killed sin in 2 hits =P

  26. bob says:

    oh yeah i over killed him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. wyrm says:

    …… i killed sin in one hit and overkill.
    also dark valefor is quite easy (short battle: titus does a 99,999 then animas overdrive 1,599,986 or somthing like that) i havent yet tried any of the other dark aeons though. well maybe the magus sisters but they got in the way. my skills arnt even maxed out. titus has 148 str and 140 agility. anima has 255 str i guess but how can you lose against him. the other dark aeons may be a bit harder though =p. penance i look forward to fighting mwahaha

  28. Roos says:

    i dont understand a shiiit about how i max all ^^ auron is my best man with about 4200MP.. and i think he i s good xD haha lol :)

  29. Bizarre says:

    The Dark Aeons are heinous. After the Magus Sisters absolutely stomped me the first time, I saved a copy of my game then grabbed my Action Replay.

    I cheated. I cheated my little black heart out.

    I still couldn’t beat them. It was embarassing.

  30. Renzokukorama says:

    If anyone’s stuck and wants a non-spoiler-ific tip then e-mail me ([email protected])… I Can help with everything except Da Aeons… It’ll be a couple of days before I’m levelled up enough and I’ve found a few bit’s and bob’s out.
    I Missed loads of stuff on the first run… Including the Besaid destruction Prize.
    If your reading this looking for tips and are about to switch embark on the international version of (it has to be said) one of the best PS2 games ever…

    (See what I did there… FFVIII Joke)

    Missing Besaid Deconstruction Sphere means

    Or at least until you beat Dark Valefor summonned as soon as you go near Besaid Temple Again (HP=800,000 Def=120 MDef=220… Need I go on). Oh, and he’s by far the easiest of them…

    You need all six Deconstruction Prizes to open the Seal for Anima… No Anima = No Magus Sisters).

    And to help with the whole Sphere Problem (Power’s, Mana’s etc)… Use a Distiller (or “Extract” Skill) for whichever sphere you need on Fafnir (Catch 4 of each Dragon Species) or Kottos (Catch all from Mi’ihen) and you’ll get 40 lovely spheres for an overkill (Or if you don’t quite have the stones to land a 15,000 HP finishing blow you’ll be blessed with 20 spheres of your request). Fafnirs Much Harder than Kottos but drops 20 Light Curtains (40 for overkill) as well… use 70 of these to customise Auto-Protect on Armour which is vital for those Dark Aeons who’ll snap your 255 defense like a dry twiglet!

    I also know FF VIII and XII like the back of my hand, so feel free to drop a document of your frustrations to the address above.

    Also to do with above, One-Eye (catch 4 of all flying eyeball species) drops weapons with Triple AP both with 2 slots shown above but also 3 slots… add a Triple Overdrive to the above weapon… you can imagine. Thank god he does tho…
    Oh, and FFX Int has the Ribbon (as mentioned above) it costs 99 Dark Matter to customize (693 Dark Matter… Urrrgghhh)
    Luckily, those uber-hard Dark Aeons 4 slot armour with it already customed… See, they’re not all bad :L

  31. Renzokukorama says:

    Sorry, email address is:

    [email protected]

    NOT ronzokukorama (although good way of mixing VIII & X)

  32. Renzokukorama says:

    Wrong e-mail above…

    [email protected]

  33. Cody says:

    ummm hi, i just wanted to say nice website but iv got something to ask aswel… how do i get auron or tidus to get over 9999 health coz iv finished the game, and i really need more hp then 9999 :/ help me ?

  34. Elryc says:

    I just feel it necessary to point out if you can find a 3 slot triple AP armor, you can tack on triple XP as well (Or was it the other way around…? Hmm….)

  35. cloud9 says:

    to break the hp limit, you need to add 30 wings to discovery (thirty can be gotten at the remien temple by beating the chocobo race with three chests and no poles, otherwise shinryu drops two per defeat for an overkill, which requires 99999 damage,there is also a creature you can bribe, but I can’t remember which.) to your armor. I am currently in the process of customizing armors with confuse and berserk proof along with auto phoenix and break hp limit to fight nemesis. That ap trick can be accomplished more quickly by fighting the cactuar king from area conquests, as he regularly deals 99999 damage without provocation, but let me recommend auto phoenix. Wish ai had the international version so I could fight the dark aeons, they sound awesome. One question: I need armor with 4 open slots for everyone except yuna and rikku, any ideas where would be the best places to start looking? thanks!

  36. Megan z says:

    I think you have to buy them from shops or you can find then in different places. I THINK.

  37. Tim2007 says:

    Since O’Aka is now in the Bevelle version of the Bastille, his brother Wantz is around selling all kinds of nice things, specifically to help out Yuna and Company.

    Eventually, he will settle at the south end of the Macalania Forest, and has lots of empty 4-slot weapons and armour for sale, for the bargain price of about 100,000 gil each.

    By this time, you are probably visiting the Omega Ruins, and have Gillionaire on your Capture weapon, so that when you open the chest next to the Zaurus to find the Mimic, you get about 100,000 gil per Mimic battle.

    I’m trying to find an easier source for Dark Matter, as waiting for it to come up randomly during battles in the Arena is REALLY a slow way to collect them.

  38. Johnny says:

    guys i am really woundering how you get the brothers of round… because i really need that biatch… email me at [email protected] to tell me how i would really appreciate it…

  39. Kenny says:

    So is there a version of this game I can buy that will run on a US playstation 2 and still have the dark Aeons ???

  40. Blitzy says:

    Okay I think I may own a US copy of FFX bcuz when I went towards the entrance of Besaid Village, no summoner appeared to fight yuna or anything like that.. so i guess dat kinda sucks for me cause i was looking 4ward to fighting them…:|
    And i can’t win the chocobo race @ 0.00 to get tidus’ sigil…:@ its soooo pissing off..

  41. Auron says:

    I have 1 cuestion how can you beat the tank in the icelands after the woods in FFX? i tried more then 20 times but he wont die help me please

  42. Ah, Final Fantasy X… distant, sweet memories.

    I can answer almost all questions, having beaten that game into oblivion – and that means spending 40+ hours to min-max every character, INCLUDING the infamous Luck that requires to defeat that annoying Sphere boss to get the activator (or was it the stronger version of the Chocoboo Eater? Anyway one drops the +4 Luck, the other the activator for that).

    I also beat Penance… which is just a long fight, but after writing down all his skills (and fetching 99+ Healing Waters from the Adamantoises) is simply a long fight, not hard.

    Congratulations to the house owner for his website!

  43. Dase says:

    Would it not bebetter to use overdrive comrade so tidus and wakka gains the same amout of ap?

  44. Ultima says:

    Dark yojimbo is a right little twit,5 times for it to die,Damn Zanmato doesn’t work 5 times in a row.

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